Areas of Child Development: Gross Motor Skills
Gross Motor Skills refer to the physical skills needed to make large body movements i.e. the large muscles, specifically the head, neck, arms, and legs. It's the movement of your arms, legs or torso in a coordinated and controlled way.
The first example of a child developing his gross motor skills is at around 3-4 months when he raises his head when pulled into a sitting position, followed by him rolling over.
Each stage of gross motor skill development leads to the next, as they strengthen the necessary muscles and bones to help them progress from rolling over to sitting, crawling, standing, walking, running, hopping, etc. Some gross motor skills also require eye-hand coordination skills such as throwing, catching, kicking, riding a scooter or a bike.
If you think about it, we use our gross motor skills literally all the time, whether we're sitting down or standing up or laying in our beds, every time we move or change positions, we're using our gross motor movements. Balance, body strength and body awareness are all part of gross motor development. Here are a few other examples of every day activities which require gross motor skills:
lifting things (whether it's as small and light as a hairbrush or heavy as a weight, it still needs gross motor skills!)
riding a bike or a horse
playing sports like football or baseball or swimming
roller blading or ice skating
making the bed
nodding or shaking our heads
lifting our arms up to get dressed
bending down or reaching over to pick up toys
hugging (our favorite)!!!
Tips to help promote gross motor skills include:
- Tummy time! Placing your baby on her tummy so she strengthens the muscles required to lift up her head, encourage her to reach for her favorite toy
- Place a toy out of his reach when he’s sitting or standing to encourage him to move his body to get it
- Get a baby stroller or a shopping cart for toddlers (or any wheeled toy with a high back) that the child can push around and use for balance to help them walk
- Encourage your child to play on a trampoline or on a play structure in the park so she can run, jump, climb, swing, and slide.
- Give her a ball to throw and kick and catch
- Dance! Play "Simon Says" - clap hands, shake your head, wave your arms around, touch your toes, reach up high, stand on one leg!
- Stacking toys - reaching over to pick up the blocks and building a tower uses important gross motor skills
- Hula Hooping - another fun way to get your child's body moving!
- Explore nature - bending over to pick up petals, or climbing a tree!